TAIWAN STEEL SCRAP: China’s looming presence spurs supply concerns

China's looming presence as a new buyer in the Asian seaborne scrap market has sparked concerns of tight supply in the region, including in Taiwan, sources told Fastmarkets this week.

Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment for containerized cargoes of steel scrap, HMS 1&2 (80:20), US material import, cfr main port Taiwan was $448-450 per tonne on Friday January 8, narrowing upward by $3 per tonne from a day earlier but increasing by $7-8 per tonne from $440-443 per tonne on December 31.

Transaction prices in Taiwan rose gradually this week, with transactions heard concluded at increasing levels of $445 per tonne, $448 per tonne and $450 per tonne cfr Taiwan from mid-week onward after a slow start to the trading week due to the New Year holidays.

Negotiations started off at the same level as just before the New Year break, although bids gradually increased from $443 per tonne cfr Taiwan to $445 per tonne cfr Taiwan by Wednesday.

Offers were mostly at $450 per tonne cfr Taiwan this week.

“The presence of China in the spot market has spooked many other buyers in other countries, some feel that scrap supply will remain tight in the whole of 2021,” a Taiwanese trader told Fastmarkets.

A continued shortage of containerized ferrous scrap has led to at least two transactions for bulk HMS 1&2 (80:20) from the United States’ West Coast to be sold to Taiwan in the past two weeks, including one in the last week of December.

This indicates a premium of around $30 per tonne that bulk cargoes are commanding over containerized materials.

One cargo was sold to a major Taiwanese electric-arc furnace (EAF)-based steel mill at $474 per tonne cfr Taiwan, while the second cargo was sold at $475-480 per tonne cfr Taiwan.

There was a transaction concluded at $455 per tonne cfr Taiwan for a bulk Japanese H1&H2 (50:50) cargo on Wednesday.

Bids later increased to $460 per tonne cfr Taiwan by the second half of the week, against offers at $460-465 per tonne cfr Taiwan.

Japanese buyers of ferrous scrap continue to seek the steelmaking raw material to hedge against a sudden shortage of material, with prices for plate and structural-grade scrap (P&S), known as HS in Japan, rising this week.

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